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The duchess of Cornwall has become godmother to Saga’s new boutique cruise ship, Spirit of Discovery, in Dover, Kent.
The vessel becomes the first cruise ship to be named at the port of Dover for over a decade.
The duchess joined over 500 guests in true British style, at what is thought to be the first ever garden party on a quayside.
Grass grown in Yorkshire adorned the harbour, surrounded by traditional bunting and table settings, stunning foliage, florals, trees and parasols.
The duchess was given a tour of the ship, which has been designed and built to be a British ‘boutique’ hotel on the sea.
While on board she met captain, Julian Burgess, and crew on the bridge and entertainers in the Playhouse, the ship’s theatre.
She also viewed some of the 400-plus pieces of original art commissioned by British based artists.
These include a striking glass work created by sculptor Peter Layton, and inspired by the Royal Gardens at Highgrove.
The duchess of Cornwall formally named Spirit of Discovery with a jeroboam of the specially-blended Hush Heath English sparkling wine, before an eco-confetti cannon fired across the proceedings.
She is the patron of the charity the Silver Line, which provides a 24-hour telephone service for older people who are feeling lonely or isolated, and is Saga’s first national charity partner.
Robin Shaw, chief executive of Saga Travel, said: “This is an immensely proud moment for Saga.
“We started this journey to build something special some three and a half years ago, and today, we are honoured to be joined by our godmother, the duchess of Cornwall.
“We firmly believe that Spirit of Discovery creates a new British quality standard in the cruising market, and we can’t wait to welcome guests on board.”
The occasion celebrated the start of a significant new era for Saga Cruises, the only remaining British-registered, independent, cruise company, whose headquarters are in Folkestone.
Spirit of Discovery is the line’s first commissioned ship, and is the only ship built and delivered exclusively for the British market this year.
She has been registered in the UK and will proudly display ‘London’ as her port of registry on her stern.
Her sister ship, Spirit of Adventure, will also fly the Red Ensign when she launches in 2020.
Moreover, Spirit of Discovery is the first ship to be docked, and named, at Dover Western Docks following the £250 million redevelopment of the area.
The inaugural cruise of Spirit of Discovery will depart from Dover on July 10th and sail around the British Isles.